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22/09/2021

Derry teacher completes Waterside Half Marathon and raises £2,000 in memory of cousin

A Derry teacher completed Waterside Half marathon on Sunday in memory of her cousin who died as a result of suicide. Rachel Stone and her close friend Elena Figini also raised over £2,000 in sponsorship for suicide prevention charity LIPS (Limavady Initiative for Prevention of Suicide). Jamie Barr was studying actuary at Queens University Belfast when he died in 2016 at just 19 years of age. “It was a such a shock,” said Rachel. “He was such a lovely person and so successful, there was no reason for what happened. “We were close growing up and are families are very close too. “There was six years between us, but it didn’t really feel like that. “Nobody ever suspected there was anything wrong.” Shortly after Jamie’s death his dad Samuel Barr was contacted by a man called Willy Mulhern who had lost his son Oisin Mulhern in similar circumstances. Together they set up LIPS to provide help and support to people who were feeling suicidal. “What they aim to do is to promote suicide awareness and promote mental health and well-being through workshops and social events,” Rachel explained. “They also provide sign posting to local advice groups and let people know what kind of services are available and they are able to provide emergency counselling services too for people that are in difficulty.” Rachel and Elena decided to run the Waterside Half Marathon in memory of Jamie and to raise money for LIPS after learning how shockingly common suicide has become. “It has become an epidemic,” said Rachel. “It’s just terrifying.” “In 2017 there were 297 deaths by suicide in Northern Ireland.” Despite having no background in running the women were able to train for the half marathon in just six months. “I couldn’t have run from one lamppost to the next,” admitted Rachel. “But we just followed a training programme and we were able to build up our distances. “It wasn’t hard because we are doing something that is so close to our hearts.”

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